Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Russian city of Ulyanovsk was turned to a scandal – that was something that no one saw before. President Putin stayed in Ulyanovsk for about two hours, but this visit was exciting PR agents’ minds for a week already and they were exciting the population in their turn. The arrival of the head of the state had a very loud scandalous echo in local media outlets. Some newspapers managed to present Putin’s visit under this very label – a scandal. Ulyanovsk newspapers were writing about Putin’s visit according to their direction, but each publication had the direction of its own. Ulyanovsk newspapers are divided into three categories: those that support governor Shamanov, those that stand against him, and those, who try to take some neutral position. Anyway, they are not being good at that.
Vladimir Putin could not even think that his visit would yield a grand scandal in the local media. Putin visited the demolishing levee, the new bridge (the construction of which was not completed yet, although it is being built since 1985), he took a walk along the Volga river embankment and had a glass of local beer. According to one of the versions, Putin had an emergency landing in Ulyanovsk, when he was flying from the republic of Kazakhstan to the city of Saransk to conduct a session over there. Saransk failed to take the big presidential jetliner, so Putin had to take another plane in Ulyanovsk.
Ulyanovsk has been waiting for this visit or eight years, but it only lasted about two hours. As soon as Putin’s plane took off, PR agents started their activities.
The newspaper Zhisn (Life) does not hide its aversion to Ulyanovsk mayor Pavel Romanenko, its headline about the president’s visit was the following: “Putin Brought Romanenko Down, Lower Than The Sewer.” The president discussed the issue of public utilities with local administrators, and the mentioned newspaper wrote that “Putin was not waiting for Romanennko, he forced his way through security to talk to the president. Putin said that there were more people working at public utility enterprises of Ulyanovsk in comparison with the personnel of the presidential administration: “Almost twice as much,” – specified Putin.
There is an impression that newspapers were watching only one thing during Putin’s visit – who was standing beside him.
When Putin arrived in Saransk, he expressed his opinion about the deplorable situation in the Ulyanovsk region again. The newspaper Gubernia entitled its article as “Operation Putin.” The newspaper wrote that Putin’s visit was conducted according to the rules of informational wars: he did not get ready for the visit, he did not get acquainted with analysts’ calculations and conclusions. Gubernia believed that the main lesson that the region had to learn was: “Stop waiting and hoping for the Tsar, who knows everything and who will get everything straight one fine day. Only we can do something about it and no one else.”
The residents of Ulyanovsk experienced the results of Putin’s visit at once. People were coming back home from beaches or gardens and they had to spend several hours under the hot sun just because of the fact that the only bridge across the Volga river was blocked. Vladimir Putin was showed another bridge to. However, there were a few people that were happy about Vladimir Putin’s visit – a few girls managed to take pictures with the president.
Sergey Nikolayev PRAVDA.Ru Ulyanovsk
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov